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Published: October 15th 2011
Days 20 and 21
Our little blue suitcases are on the move again, and so are we. Good-bye to Kensington, we are on our way to pick up another rental car. I planned this carefully so that we were closely situated to the Enterprise office, just a short taxi drive away with yet another not-so-chatty taxi driver. Is it us, or what?
The Enterprise Office is just that - an office. Where are the cars? After we have gotten our luggage and a laundry bag of dirty clothes into the front door we are informed that we will need to pick everything up, walk down the street, go down the alley, and then we can pick up our car out back. Why couldn’t we just go through the office out to the back? Just not done….
And we pick up our blue Astra, although we requested a more comfortable Vauxhall, and we are off, getting lost and then finding our way to Bonsall in the Derbyshire. The Derbyshire is an important part of my DNA group’s location and today we will get a really, really important clue. In the church grave yard at Bonsall, John Pegg and Tom Miller
Trying to Find the Elusive Cousins
We played phone tag for about two hours before finally meeting up.
will find graves for surnames in our group. We are now looking at a very small geographical area where at least fragments of our families lived and died. John and Tom are ecstatic, but I confess that I cannot be as enthusiastic as they are: we have been lost, had several detours, and one detour several times, and been back tracking to get here, and, again, there is not a shred of evidence for my Maxfield ancestors.
My mood brightens considerably when John and I park the Astra and we continue the day being chauffeured in Cousin John’s Land Rover. We go on to Arbor Low, a Neolithic henge monument. The henges have now fallen over but the ditch, the number of henges-50 limestone slabs-and the central cove speak of this site as an important ancient sacred ground. It is also amazing that in England, as in Ireland, you can just walk up and touch these ancient monuments.
We end the day by picking up another and ancient monument to the Derbyshire: we stop for a Bakewell Pudding to take on with us to Roystone Grange. Dessert is at hand! Following a long and bumpy road in,
Finding surnames on gravestones in the Bonsall cemetary.
John now driving our Astra and trying to keep up with Cousin John madly careening down country roads, we come to the magnificent Old Farmhouse where we will stay for the next three nights.
Dropping off our luggage, baggage, and groceries, we are back on the road to The Saracen’s Head for a lovely dinner where we drag out charts and family trees and try to get to the bottom of our DNA connections. We don’t, but it is a lovely dinner nonetheless, and back at The Old Farmhouse, as much as we want to stay up and talk, we are all falling asleep in our chairs.
It is so foggy outside we can barely see the gate to our cottage. We set our, hoping the fog will lift, for Minninglow. After leaving the Land Rover in the car park, we head out on the Roystone Grange (part of the High Peak) Trail. We pass through the gorge cut for the railroad line and see remnants of rail road history: the trail is actually the path of the old railway line.
We keep telling ourselves that the fog is lifting, but in reality it is
The henges have fallen, but you can see that they were in a circle, the ditch, and the cove
not. It is actually getting foggier, colder, and wetter as we walk. When we finally arrive at Minninglow Hill, we are hard pressed to see the circle of trees that encompasses it. These are not ancient trees. I will learn later that planting trees on top of barrow mounds and around stone circles was a fad in the 1880’s. The beech trees that surround Minninglow, however, make a visible and stunning monument for miles around. We find the multi-chambered tomb and we stand on the ancient barrow, but the dense fog makes it difficult to enjoy the panorama that these burial grounds usually offer. We also do not find great great grand dad. Of course we knew we wouldn’t, but we have walked in the sacred places that our ancestors may have walked and it is humbling to think that our people may have been here for their ceremonies or living in small neolithic farms, or later in the Romano-British era .
Walking back to the car, we hike through the gorge and along the top of the very, very steep stone embankment. Everywhere we are seeing old rock walls- some date to Romano-British, some are medieval and some
are post-medieval. There is one spot that has been identified as a Neolithic animal enclosure, but we do not find it.
Going back to the Farm House, we drop off the car and hike a short way down the lane to a rugged hill. Cousins John and Tom are able to climb to the top, but John and I decide to be prudent and wait for another day. On our way back to the Farm House, we spot the alternate, and much easier, route to the top which we will take advantage of later.
The time has come for my cousins to depart. Cousin John in his Land Rover will drop Tom at the railroad station so that he can make his flight from Gatwick to Finland, and Cousin John will go back to London. Making sure they have slices of Bakewell Pudding and bottles of water to sustain them for the journey, they hurry out the door and suddenly, it is so still.
John and I decide to go buy the groceries we will need for the rest of our stay and head out for Chatsworth Farm Shop. Grocery shopping in another country is always an
Arriving at Roystone Grange
Getting closer to October, the light is taking on a pink-golden hue.
adventure, although a bit trying, and the people at Chatsworth are very, very helpful. We load up our groceries, and since the day is cool, figure that we can leave them in the “boot” and go for lunch at the Farm Shop’s restaurant. We also find that we finally have a cell phone and internet connection so we read email and make a call to Caitlin. There is the sad news that my dear Uncle Don has passed away, as has my half-brother. In a solemn mood, we make our way back to the Farm House. Now that the sun has broken through the fog, it is a beautiful day and we look forward to a quiet evening of making our own dinner and starting in on that big bag of laundry.
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